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Oct 31, 2012

how to say "cologne" and "perfume" in Hebrew


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בֹּשֶׂם

The Hebrew word for perfume is בֹּשֶׂם, going back to the Biblical word for a substance giving off a pleasant smell.

Cologne is מֵי בֹּשֶׂם (meh-ee BOH-sem), meaning pleasant-smelling water, much like the French eau de toilette. But most Israelis refer to cologne, just like perfume, as בושם.

The root of בושם is also used as a verb, in the words לְבַשֵּׂם (leh-vah-SEM) - to make someone/something smell nice, and לְהִתְבַּשֵּׂם (leh-heet-bah-SEM) - to make oneself smell nice.

For example:


הוּא הִתְבַּשֵּׂם לִקְרָאת הַפְּגִישָׁה שֶׁלּוֹ אִתָּה.
He made himself smell nice for his date with her.


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how to say "to unwind" in Hebrew



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לְהִתְפָּרֵק

before Hurricane Sandy
לְהִתְפָּרֵק is a reflexive-intensive הִתְפַּעֵל verb. It means literally to come apart or to fall apart

For example:


הָאַרְמוֹן בַּחוֹל הִתְפָּרֵק.

But this word is also used in a non-literal sense to refer to that activity of coming home after a long day at work and... well, collapsing or unwinding:

אַחֲרֵי יוֹם עֲבוֹדָה, הִיא אוֹהֶבֶת לָצֵאת עִם חֲבֵרִים וּלְהִתְפָּרֵק.
After a work day, she likes to go out with friends and unwind.

The act of unwinding is הִתְפָּרְקוּת


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Oct 30, 2012

how to say "cell phone" in Hebrew


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טֶלֶפוֹן נַיָּד

The Hebrew word for mobile - describing something portable or that moves from place to place - is נַיָּד (nah-YAHD). So a mobile telephone is a טֶלֶפוֹן נייד.

The word טלפון (TEH-leh-phohn) itself does have a proper Hebrew term invented by the Academy of the Hebrew Language decades ago, but it never caught on. The term is שָׂח רָחוֹק, which means something to the effect of long-distance conversing device

Another application of the word נייד is in portable computer or laptop:

מַחְשֵׁב נייד


Though the proper term for mobile phone is טלפון נייד, Israelis often abbreviate the expression, referring to their phone simply as נייד.

For example:



שְׁמוֹר אֶת הַמִּסְפָּר שֶׁלִּי בַּנַּיָּד.
(to a male:) Store (keep) my number in the (your) mobile phone.







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Oct 29, 2012

how to say "red tape" in Hebrew


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נַיֶּרֶת
The expression "red tape" refers to the frustrating element in bureaucracy, where people have to wait lots of time for their business to move forward, often due to lots and lots of paperwork.

The Hebrew word for "red tape" or simply "paperwork", נַיֶּרֶת, comes from the word for paper, נְיָר (neh-YAHR) - which first appears in Mishnaic Hebrew.


For example:


אֶתְקַשֵּׁר אֲלֵיכֶם אַחֲרֵי שֶׁאֶגְמוֹר לְטַפֵּל בַּנַיֶּרֶת.
I'll call you (plural) after I finish taking care of the paperwork.


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Oct 26, 2012

why Hebrew is called Ivrit


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עִבְרִית
As the Torah portion to be read this Shabbat by Jews (Hebrews) around the world depicts the character of אברהם - Abraham (ahv-rah-HAHM) most prominently, and since this patriarch is referred to in the Torah as אברם העברי (ahv-RAHM hah-eev-REE), now is a good time to hash out the origin of the word for Hebrew - עִבְרִית
hah-sah-FAH hah-eev-REET
The Hebrew language

The Hebrew word for the Hebrew language, עברית, is certainly named after the ethnicity of אברהם. But scholars differ as to the origin of that ethnicity's name itself.

One popular explanation is that אברהם crossed a river to get to the Promised Land.

But the explanation more likely to be historically-accurate is that אברהם came from the family of עֵבֶר (EH-vehr), a descendant of נֹח Noah (NOH-ahkh) - whose name appears more prominently than the others in the list of נח's progeny. Likewise, the rabbis of the Midrash celebrate עֵבֶר (EH-vehr) as one of נח's two descendants before אברהם who remained faithful to G-d. The other descendant is נח's son שֵׁם (shem), the father of the Semites.

Today עִבְרִי (eev-REE), Hebrew used as an adjective, refers to people belonging to אברהם the patriarch's ethnicity.

Some examples:

בֵּית הַנֹּעַר הָעִבְרִי
The Hebrew Youth House (Center)
אַבְרָהָם טָל
Avraham Tal


עבודה עברית
Hebrew (Jewish) labor


אַבְרָהָם טָל הוּא זַמָּר יִשְׂרָאֵלִי הַמַּלְחִין שִׁירִים עִבְרִיִּם.
Avraham Tal is an Israeli singer who composes Hebrew songs.


And off the topic of the language...

שַׁבָּת שָׁלוֹם וְסוֹף שָׁבוּעַ נָעִים לְכֻלָּם!
Shabbat Shalom, and a pleasant weekend to all!



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Oct 25, 2012

how to say "undercover Israelis" in Hebrew


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מִסְתַּעֲרְבִים

This one's for Shimon K.

אֵלִי כֹּהֵן
Eli Cohen
The Israeli intelligence agencies are among the most effective and notorious in the world. One tactic employed by these agencies is sending an Israeli spy into enemy territory to live as one of them.

Since most of Israel's enemies are Arab countries (Iran being an exception), the term for this undercover Israeli is מִסְתַּעֲרֵב
Employing a variation of the reflexive-intensive הִתְפַּעֵל verb form, the word מסתערב itself combines:

1. the ס (s) sound appearing in many of the words involving espionage - מַסְוֶהdisguise (mahs-VEH); סָמוּי, concealed (sah-MOO-ee); etc.

with

2. the root of the word for Arab, ע.ר.ב (a.r.b)

An example:

הַמִּסְתַּעֲרֵב הַמְּפֻרְסָם בְּיוֹתֵר בַּהִסְטוֹרְיָה הוּא אֵלִי כֹּהֵן.
The most famous mistaarev in history is Eli Cohen.

Though the word מסתערב usually describes activity among Arabs, the term has come to refer to Israeli espionage in other societies as well.





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Oct 24, 2012

how to say "(the) debate" in Hebrew


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עִמּוּת
With two weeks to go before the 2012 United States presidential elections, the two candidates engaged the other night in the third and final presidential debate in their campaigns.

If you enter debate into the Morfix online dictionary, you'll see several translations of the word into Hebrew, none of which is the word I'm introducing here.

Perhaps for the sake of dramatic flair, the word you'll find in the Israeli media referring to the debate in question is עִמּוּת.


An עימות is, more accurately than a debate, a confrontation. To confront someone is לְהִתְעַמֵּת (leh-heet-ah-MET). 

For example:


שְׁנֵי הַמָּעֳמָדִים לִנְשִׂיאוּת אַרְצוֹת הַבְּרִית הִתְעַמְּתוּ אֶחָד עִם הַשֵּׁנִי הַשָּׁבוּעַ, בָּעִמּוּת הַשְּׁלִישִׁי בֵּינֵיהֶם.
The two candidates for the United States presidency confronted one another this week, in their third confrontation (debate).


The words עמות and להתעמת come from the root ע.מ.ת (a.m.t) meaning friend or counterpart.


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Oct 23, 2012

how to say "to wander"


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לְשׁוֹטֵט




A while ago I did an entry on to wander - this word is a synonym and is more widely used.

לשוטט is an active-intensive פִּעֵל verb, of the root שׁ.ו.ט (sh.w.t). A related word is לָשׁוּט (lah-SHOOT), meaning to sail.

And that makes sense, since the tendency of a ship with no captain is לשוטט.

For an example of this word in action, listen to this great, sad love song by Israeli musician Shalom Hanoch:




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Hebrew vocabulary with...
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Ktzat Ivrit enthusiasts like yourself